fgm threat mdg hr

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FGM a threat to MDGs and Human Rights: 

FGM a threat to MDGs and Human Rights Global Consultation on FGM/C Addis Ababa 30 July-3 August 2007 GTZ Photo


INTRODUCTION There is an estimated 135 million girls and women that have gone through the FGM/C procedure with an additional 2 million a year at risk. FGM/C is practiced in Africa (28 countries), Middle East, parts of Asia as well as by some migrants communities North America, Latin America, Australia and as well as in Europe.


FGM AND MDGs The Millenium Declaration (Sept 2000) commits the Member States to promote gender equality and the empowerment of women as an effective way to combat poverty, hunger and diseases and to stimulate sustainable development. In 2002 this agenda was refined into 8 Goals establishing measurable targets and indicators of development to be reach by 2015.

GOAL 1: Eradicate Poverty and hunger: 

GOAL 1: Eradicate Poverty and hunger FGM is a threat to MDG 1 : important resourses are mobilized and spent to treat consequences of FGM/C Poverty is not only short of financial resources, it is truly lack of opportunity, deprivation of fundamental human rights by the violation of physical and mental integrity FGM/C relates to the four dimensions of poverty: Opportunities: Budget spent, Cost opportunities Capabilities: Human capital (Education, Health) Security: Vulnerability to GBV including FGM Empowerment: Participation, Decision, legal status.

Goal 2 Achieve universal primary education: 

Goal 2 Achieve universal primary education FGM/C is a threat to MDG 2 because the promotion of universal education can be compromised Effects of FGM/C on Education include : disturbances in concentrating and learning. Health problems, trauma and pain results to absenteeism, drop out and poor performance.

Goal 3 Achieve Gender Equality: 

Goal 3 Achieve Gender Equality Gender-based disadvantages in every area of life are the major cause for acts of violence committed against women and girls, including FGM. Goal 3 challenges discrimination against women, and seeks to ensure that girls as well as boys have the chance to go to school. Indicators linked to this goal aim to measure progress towards ensuring that more women become literate, have more voice and representation in decision making spheres at all level, and have improved job prospects. But the issue of gender equality is not limited to a single goal – it applies to all of them.

Goal 4 Reduce child mortality: 

Goal 4 Reduce child mortality FGM is performed on female infants a few days old, children in their early years of life as well as adolescent girls. There is substantial evidence to show that still birth or neonatal death occur as a complication of FGM during childbirth. Thus FGM is contributing to neonatal and child mortality. Complications such as obstructed canal and infections may led to peri-natal death.

Goal 5 Improve Maternal Health: 

Goal 5 Improve Maternal Health FGM/C is a threat to safe motherhood. Gender inequality and lack of empowerment affects access to information and services and leads to adverse reproductive health outcomes, including high maternal mortality. Major health complications of FGM/C are associated with pregnancy, childbirth and the postpartum period. This makes childbirth not only excruciatingly painful, but also extremely dangerous as it prolongs labour, obstructs the birth canal, and often causes perianal tears Psychological disorder and trauma.

Goal 6 Combat HIV/AIDS: 

Goal 6 Combat HIV/AIDS Higher vulnerability to HIV/AIDS among girls who have been subjected due to bleeding and the use of shared and non sterilised instruments. A community-based study in The Gambia in 1999 identified a higher prevalence of simplex virus 2 among women who undergone FGM/C. These women may be at risk of HIV/AIDS FGM/C practice hampers efforts to halt and reverse the spread of HIV/AIDS

FGM/C and HR Frameworks : 

FGM/C and HR Frameworks Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW 1979). Out of the 28 African countries that practice FGM, 26 have ratified the Convention, 16 have enacted laws. Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC1989). African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child (1990). Un Resolution 56/128 on traditional or customary practices affecting the health of women and girls (2001). Additional Protocol to the African Charter on People’s Human Rights on Women’s rights (ACPHR 2003. Art 5). UN Conferences: (Vienna 1993), ICPD (Caire 1994), (Beijing 1995).


FGM/C and HUMAN RIGHTS States are obligated under International Law to prevent, investigate, and punish violence against women. The UN Declaration on the Elimination of Violence Against Women provides that : “States should not invoke any custom, tradition, or religious consideration to avoid their obligation to eliminate violence against women, and that they must exhibit due diligence in investigating and imposing penalties for violence, and establishing effective protective measures.”


FGM/C and HUMAN RIGHTS FGM/C is a manifestation of gender-based human rights violations that exist in all cultures that aim to control women's sexuality and autonomy. Because of its severity and scale, FGM/C cannot be viewed in isolation. FGM/C is one of many forms of social injustice that women suffer worldwide is key to creating societies in which women are valued as full and equal participants. A human rights perspective sets FGM/C in the context of women's social and economic powerlessness. Recognizing that civil, political, social, economic, and cultural rights are indivisible and interdependent is a crucial starting point for addressing the range of factors that perpetuate FGM/C .

FGM and HR Principles: 

FGM and HR Principles Universality and indivisibility : All human rights political, economic, civil and cultural rights are fundamental human rights. (Universality is a key principle in case of cultural exception such as FGM/C ) Equality and non discrimination Participation and inclusion Accountability of State and Rule of Law

FGM is a Threat to HR: 

FGM is a Threat to HR Right to life : in some cases FGM/C can violate girl and woman right to life due uncontrolled bleeding or infection after the procedure. FGM may contribute to maternal and neo natal death Right to health: infection and pain are the most recorded consequences of FGM on Health. Trauma and psychological marks that affects full emotional development.

FGM is a Threat to HR: 

FGM is a Threat to HR Right to physical and mental integrity Sexual Rights : Physical damage and psychological trauma from FGM/C can compromise sexual life of women leading to marital problems Right to choose/decide: non consenting practice Right to be free from discrimination

UNFPA work in FGM/C and HR: 

UNFPA work in FGM/C and HR Support for FGM/C may be rapidly reversed and abandoned if attitudes and customs are collectively addressed by the practising communities. In 2002 UNFPA launches the Culturally Sensitive Approach.It requieres working, listening, and sharing knowledge with the communities. Cultural practices are essential in women’s life and women’s rights. This led to positive results in the area of FGM/C


CHALLENGES Legislation that punished FGM can accelerate change when a process of community change is in place.But there gaps in of reporting systems and lack of law enforcement Legislation makes clear the disapproval of the State, which is the primary responsible for people’s security, support to whose who renounce or wish to. Lack of strong political will in law enforcement and the MDGs are likely not to be met in 2015.


CONCLUSION Successful community led approaches encouraging the abandonment of the practice are reported. HR based approaches have also demonstrated a great potential for accelerating the elimination of the practice. It very clear that FGM/C cannot be eliminated in isolation, effective responses must multi-sectoral and involve partnership building at all levels. Capacity building is key: young and women, of States to fulfill their commitments, the International community to mobilize technical and financial the necessary global support.

Joint statement by the WHO, UNICEF and UNFPA : 

Joint statement by the WHO, UNICEF and UNFPA "It is unacceptable that the international community remains passive in the name of a distorted vision of multiculturalism. Human behaviour and cultural values, however senseless or destructive they may appear from the personal and cultural standpoints of others, have meaning and fulfil a function for those who practice them. However, culture is not static but is in constant flux, adapting and reforming. People will change their behaviour when they understand the hazards and indignity of harmful practices and when they realize that it is possible to give up harmful practices without giving up meaningful aspects of their culture."  

“There are practices that our ancestors if they came back to life would find obsolete and outdated” Amadou Hampate Ba: 

“There are practices that our ancestors if they came back to life would find obsolete and outdated” Amadou Hampate Ba UNICEF Photo

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